Improving pilot weather briefings has been a focus of aviation apps since the iPhone was first introduced. With the variety of sources and the often unreadable ALL CAP text formats, some good data visualization can have a powerful impact. The latest example of this trend is the wx24Pilot app, which aims to make text weather a thing of the past.
The app displays four main products in a single view: METAR, TAF, TFR and AIR/SIGMETs. Instead of the typical map view or text weather report list, wx24Pilot shows a large, colorful circle. In METAR view, you can get a quick feel for the weather. In the example below, Austin is reporting IFR conditions (hence the red circle), with 2 1/2 miles visibility in light rain and mist. There’s a 1000 ft. scattered cloud layer and a 1500 ft. overcast layer. The wind is 180 at 14 knots.
By tapping the airplane at the lower right corner, you can switch to TAF view. The same basic icons are used here, so you can understand the trend over the next 24 hours. Times are indicated (in either local or zulu) by the white arrows.
Finally, there’s a combined screen that shows multiple airport TAFs at the same time. This is helpful for comparing a destination and an alternate, or for understanding the weather picture for a larger area. It’s easy to see at a glance what the ceiling, visibility and wind will do over the next 24 hours.
There’s also the option to set personal minimums in here, so you can quickly determine if weather conditions are below what you feel comfortable with.
Overall, we found this app to have some truly unique features. For understanding the big picture and the trends in weather conditions, it has real value. Having said that, it’s not the most intuitive app to use – accessing some information requires you to tap or swipe in ways that may not be initially clear. In addition, some of the symbols require study before you understand what they mean, which reduces the value of a “quick glance” app. The graphic below offers some good information for new users.
Wx24Pilot is available for free in the App Store and includes three days of use; a one year subscription is $11.99. A video demo shows the app in action.